SGT. JASPER PARK SHOWCASES LOWCOUNTRY’S BEAUTY AND ABUNDANT RECREATION ACTIVITIES
Tucked behind Coastal Carolina Hospital, just a stone’s throw from US 278 and Interstate 95, sits a hidden gem that showcases much of the natural beauty and outdoor recreation that makes the Lowcountry great. And it’s largely unknown, even to some longtime residents.
Spanning 321 acres of pine wetland and featuring activities ranging from fishing and kayaking to disc golf, Sergeant Jasper Park in Hardeeville is the perfect place for a broad swath of events from picnics to national championship half marathons.
No, really. After hosting cross country races in and around the park during his tenure as cross country coach at the nearby University of South Carolina Beaufort, Larry Kimball continues to take advantage of Sergeant Jasper Park, first staging an elite 5K race on the roads running through and around the property, then winning a bid to bring the USATF National Half Marathon Championship to Hardeeville.
One of Kimball’s Sand Shark runners, Jaime Roberts, fell in love with Sergeant Jasper Park during her college tenure, and now she takes the John Paul II Catholic School team she coaches to train there.
“It’s always been my favorite course because it’s flat, fast and a beautiful location,” Roberts said. “We also ran many morning runs around the ponds and enjoyed the wildlife in the area. Now I have the privilege of coaching an amazing group of athletes and bringing them to my college home course to run the same trails I ran.”
But you don’t have to be a world-class runner — or a runner at all — to find something to enjoy at Sergeant Jasper Park. After nearly being shut down for lack of use in 2005, the park is thriving today. Here’s a look at all the park has to offer.
A variety of trails run throughout the park, making Sergeant Jasper a great place for interstate travelers to jump off the highway to stretch their legs or walk the dog (on a leash) while soaking in some of the Lowcountry’s natural beauty. The trails alternate between gravel, boardwalk, and natural surfaces and are suitable for hiking, biking, or running. The park’s pine wetlands create a suitable habitat for a variety of waterfowl, plant life, and migratory birds. It’s also a favored site for road races or cross country meets ranging from the community level to national championship events.
FISHING & BOATING
Everyone from avid anglers to casual visitors hoping to hook into a big one can find nine lakes stocked with fish on the property, and the lakes are fishable from the bank or by boat. Whether you want to bring your own kayak or canoe and launch it for a modest $2 fee ($5 for Jon boats with electric motors) or rent one for up to two hours for just $10, Sergeant Jasper Park provides calm, closed waters for stress-free paddling. A day pass for fishing is just $5 for adults or $2 for children ages 7-12, and there is no charge for seniors 65 and over or children 6 and under.
You won’t find many quality disc golf courses in the Lowcountry, and you certainly won’t find one better than the 20-hole layout at Sergeant Jasper Park — and it’s free to play. You can also rent or purchase discs in the park’s main office if you don’t have your own. The course meanders through the property and brings the park’s many lakes into play, though, so it might be a difficult challenge for beginners just taking up the game. If you plan to get in around here, it would be advisable to invest in floating discs that can be retrieved from the water.
Although the park’s amenities and gates close at 6 p.m., a primitive campground tucked between two lakes deep on the property allows for overnight visitors, and the Lake Jasper RV Village next door provides a spot to put down temporary roots and enjoy luxuries like a lakeside pool and amenity center.
With access to a bounty of outdoor activities, including a children’s playground and grilling areas that are open on a first-come basis, the picnic shelter ($50 for up to four hours) and banquet hall ($100 for up to four hours) at Sergeant Jasper Park make an affordable place to hold a family reunion or a retreat for your business or organization, and the park is open until 6 p.m. every day but Thanksgiving and Christmas. Alcohol is not permitted in the park, and dogs must be kept on leashes at all times. For more information, visit jaspercountysc.gov/parks-recreation/ sergeant-jasper-park
BY JUSTIN JARRETT | PHOTOS BY GUIDO FLUECK